Monday, November 23, 2009
The fruit of other artists' hands never fails to delight and astonish.
Across France and Italy, from the hands of craftsmen and artists of many centuries, you can see wonders to dazzle the eyes.
This older Italian gentleman made me long to run for my long-neglected gravers and have a go at a shell or two. Such is my admiration for his artistic touch with the simplest of materials.
I wonder at the skill of this man's hands and his imagination.
He only speaks Italian and I do not, but we did communicate, and he had never met an American before who appreciated the feel of a fine hardwood graver in her hand.
But most of the artisans of Europe are long gone and their work must speak for them, leaving mysteries speaking loudly.
Tarquinia's sarcophagi, made by Etruscan craftsmen centuries before Christ. Who were these stone carvers? What were their tools?
Who designed the motifs that seem to almost fold and layer on Pompeii's column capitals? I muse over their design method... did they sketch first on a paper-like substance? Use something to model it first?
Street signs, paintings in the brothels... You can see the results of these imaginative ancient hands but not the tools or methods.
I am left staring, pondering, curious about how these brilliant minds made their art. I'm shocked at the sophistication and beauty they built into raised cobbled stone sidewalks, public drinking fountains and graceful clay amphoras.
Will we, I wonder, leave behind anything half so lasting? And what can I learn from the gifted hands of artists both ancient and modern?